A Beijing professor returns to his stomping grounds for a friend's funeral. Reflecting on the past, he meets a tea shop owner who sparks feelings of love in a time of pain.
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★★★★ review by MrJago on Letterboxd
Sort of Hong Sang-soo meets Someone who cares about making a film look really pretty. I really liked it.
The scenes at night are the best.
★★★★ review by casualwastrel on Letterboxd
Such a gentle film in its beautiful serenity. None of the characters really do much except walk around and drink tea, but their experience with each other leaves a tender impression as the day comes to an end. I'm not sure if the story warrants such a long running time (there are some minor subplots that end up nowhere), but Gyeongju still leaves you with a lingering feeling of warmth as these individuals go about their lives with a renewed peace of mind. With the gorgeous scenery and its welcoming stillness, it's hard not to be absorbed in the film's comforting tranquility.
★★★★★ review by banshun123 on Letterboxd
One of the funniest, well observed and moving films about nostalgia I've seen. The naturalism is so effective, even the most bizarre and counterintuitive moments feel so purposeful and human - reminds me of a later Kohei Oguri film. It's so easy to miss what's great about this film due to it pretty much breaking every expectation you have of how a film should develop. Honestly think this maybe Lu's best.
★★★★ review by pau on Letterboxd
what a slow, luminous, gentle film
★★★½ review by mirae on Letterboxd
Lu Zhang's films have the delicacy and the ordinariness of Hong Sang Soo's films, but with a lingering discomfort - which I quite enjoy - and an eye for capturing scenes so beautifully. Probably some of the most beautiful long shots I've seen in Korean film. Plus the colours - the vibrant greens.
In brief, this film is basically a two and a half hours of people drinking tea and walking around the neighbourhood. No doubt, the film is slow. But the poker face mystery of Choi Hyeon and the recurring theme of "death" which drives the story and moves the characters keeps you awaiting for something to happen - nothing dramatic, just something small, strange, uneasy to complicate the mundanity. And you know, if a story begins with death, a story cannot end with death, but needs an after death, beyond.
Side note: I cannot get myself to like Park Hae Il - he plays the strangest and the most uncomfortable characters in the films I've seen of him so far. The shot where he turns slowly and looks straight at the camera, at the viewer, hits you so unexpectedly - as if for that one second you entered into his life - discomfort lingers from then on.
Another side note: I very much appreciate how Lu Zhang incorporates his Chinese background and squeezes in tensions of two Koreas and China into his films so naturally.
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